as an example of organized improvisation during the COVID-19 outbreak
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Kenya Relief, United States
School of Health Sciences, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, United States
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A502
Kenya Relief (KR) is an NGO in Migori, Kenya, founded in 2001. KRs tripart mission comprises a K-8 school (760 children), an orphanage (165 children), and a 9000 square foot medical clinic that hosts 25 medical-surgical teams per year. On March 13, 2020, international travel was halted, preventing 17 teams from serving. KR CEO, Steve James, immediately halted outside visitors from entering the 60-acre compound. By March 16, all but 14 of KRs 142 employees were sent home with full pay. Fourteen employees (managers, dorm parents, chefs, missionaries, security guards, housekeepers) committed to stay on campus one month to care for the orphans. All revenue from the clinic and school halted from government-mandated shutdowns while orphan sponsorship payments plummeted. By March 18, the CEO had collected educational material on COVID-19 from the WHO and CDC; Discussions were had with the Migori County MOH about new rules pertaining to Kenya and the county; and an emergency board meeting was held regarding the budget and creation of COVID policies, with the board committed to weekly meetings until further notice. The CEO raised 60000 USD by mid-April 2020 that covered salaries and expenses for three months. Ten touchless handwashing stations were placed throughout the campus in April 2020. The local MOH agreed to a staged reopening of the medical clinic after a three-week shutdown. During the nine month school shutdown, teachers sent weekly lesson plans with 82% participation. All KR employees were vaccinated by August 2021. Medical teams resumed February 2021 with missioners providing vaccination proof; surgical patients received PCR tests within three days of surgery. Lastly, the CEO raised funding toward construction of the Kenya Relief Maternal Child Health Center; groundbreaking on the 65-bed hospital was July 12, 2022, to help address Migori Countys maternal mortality rate of 673 deaths/100000 live births.